Effective Ways On How To Lower Anxiety
Updated October 21, 2020
Life is full of several moments that could get us really anxious. You could be anxious when you are about to have a presentation or an interview, undergo surgery, make an important life decision, start at a new school, deliver a baby, and so on. We get anxious because we are somewhat afraid and may not know what to expect. We may be anxious as our body’s way of reacting to stress, alerting us of looming dangers and helping us get ready for the right response.
It is quite normal to experience occasional anxiety. However, in a situation where one begins to have panic attacks, painful thoughts, and memories, nightmares that seem to get out of hand, there might be a mental health problem. When your feelings are extreme and begin to affect your life in any way, it may be an Anxiety disorder. If you are experiencing these things, it is not your fault at all. It is a mood disorder, and we will examine them shortly.
Types Of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are classified into some major types. They are Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder, and Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder). Some other classifications include Separation Anxiety Disorder, selective mutism, and Agoraphobia.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by consistent worrying over everything daily. There is no apparent reason or trigger. It can cause a lot of physical manifestations.
- A patient with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may become anxious and agitated for not doing the compulsion (something done repetitively). The disorder makes people have distressing and recurring thoughts and obsessions that drive them to do their compulsions. It could become really terrible enough to disrupt work and daily life.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that develops after a traumatic experience. It could be after an accident, sexual abuse, etc.
- Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder in which one is afraid of space, so places that may cause panic or embarrassment are avoided.
- Selective mutism is a disorder, though rare, occurs in people, which makes them typically shy and avoid speaking. They are afraid of social judgment and any form of embarrassment.
- Separation anxiety disorder is pretty commoner in children, but it is also found in adults. It is an anxiety disorder that makes one fearful or anxious when a close person leaves you.
- Medication-induced anxiety disorder: It is a type of anxiety disorder whose symptoms are triggered by using certain drugs or sudden withdrawal from some medications.
Causes Of Anxiety Disorder
There are no known causes of anxiety disorders, but it has been reported that the interaction of factors contributes significantly to the disorder. These factors can be genetic, developmental, psychological, and environmental.
- Genetic factors: family members could inherit genetic factors that predispose to anxiety disorder.
- Environmental Factors: Stressful life situations, abuse or violence, disasters, and many other environmental stresses may cause anxiety disorders.
- Psychological factors: If there are faulty connections in the brain areas responsible for emotions, anxiety could result.
- Previous illnesses: Diseases involving the heart and thyroid may cause anxiety disorders. Also, previous or existing mental health conditions can predispose one to have anxiety disorders.
- Substance abuse: Illicit use of drugs can alter pathways in the brain that regulate mood.
Anxiety Signs And Symptoms
A person with anxiety can manifest a lot of symptoms. The very common ones are feelings of fear, danger or doom, tense muscles, panic attacks, sweaty palms, fast breathing, restlessness, increased heart rate, fatigue, shaking, weakness, difficulty with sleep, shortness of breath, dry mouth, dizziness, digestive system problems, difficulty in concentration, etc.
The treatment options for anxiety aim to reduce and manage the anxiety disorder symptoms. They include:
- Medication: Some classes of drugs are used in managing anxiety disorders. Your physician knows which one is best for your anxiety. Drugs used for treating anxiety are antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, among others. Consult your healthcare provider before you commence any medication.
- Psychotherapy: It is a type of counseling that aims to teach how emotions affect your behaviors.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: It is a common type of psychotherapy that teaches how to turn negative thoughts or behaviors into positive ones skillfully. The therapy also teaches ways to approach and deal with panic-causing situations without anxiety.
Effects Of Anxiety On You
A good measure of anxiety is needed by the body to react to stress and keep the body alert for immediate response to danger. However, an anxiety disorder will cause more harm to the body and your mental health. It can affect the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, urinary system, and all other systems. Let us look at some of the effects on the body in the short-term and long-term.
- Anxiety may make you feel lightheaded. Why? In normal levels of anxiety, the body reacts by increasing the heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate to get more blood to the brain. When this gets over the bar, you may begin to feel dizzy and nauseous also. If this happens consistently over some time, it can affect the brain adversely.
- Anxiety over a long period is not pleasant on the heart. There is a higher likelihood of having high blood pressure, developing a stroke, or having a heart attack due to consistently increased heart rate.
- In the urinary system, anxiety may increase micturition, the process of urinating. It is closely associated with persons with the phobia. Anxiety may make one lose control over the ability to urinate.
Proven Ways To Effectively Lower Anxiety
It is essential to manage anxiety and not let it get hold of our life. Therefore, we search for effective ways to reduce anxiety so that we can be more productive in our daily activities, family, work, and other areas. Here are some of the things we can do to lower stress.
- Regular exercise reduces your chances of experiencing anxiety. It helps your body and your mental health too. It does this by helping you sleep well. When you sleep is of good quality, anxiety is beginning to lose the battle. Again, exercises help your body release chemicals that will improve your mood. It is very important to include a good exercise routine into your daily schedule.
- Intake of good food and special teas has been shown to reduce anxiety.
- Reduce the intake of caffeine drinks or food. Caffeine in plenty of doses can make us excessively anxious. Again, consuming alcohol in excess can have an adverse effect on you. It is best to stay away from excessive alcohol and smoking. Cigarette contains nicotine, and it can modify specific pathways in the brain that are associated with anxiety.
- Another effective way to handle anxiety is to practice deep breathing exercises. Since anxiety is associated with shallow breathing, an intentional process of taking deep breaths can counter anxiety.
- Aromatherapy has also been recommended to reduce anxiety. It is the use of aromatic medicinal and essential oils to enhance physical and mental health. The oils are used in different forms either directly or put in a diffuser or added to a warm bath. Examples are lavender, grapefruit, ylang-ylang, bergamot, eucalyptus, rosemary, etc. They are known to improve mood, help in relaxation, and help to sleep.
- Relaxation and sleep are needed for lowering anxiety. It is important to manage stress properly. Therefore, deliberate relaxation techniques, such as meditation, can help manage stress and help you feel better.
- Be mindful of the medications you take. It is best to avoid medications not prescribed. This is because of possible drug interactions that may worsen anxiety symptoms.
- Learn to be more orderly by keeping a to-do list. Each day should be planned so that you will not be bombarded by thoughts that will prevent you from sleep.
As much as it is quite normal to be anxious, sometimes, many people in the world are dealing with anxiety disorders. This article talks about ways to lower anxiety in your daily affair. These ways are effective, but they will never replace the help of professionals. If your anxiety is unnecessarily increasing, please seek help.
You can learn more about Anxiety and possible ways to effectively lower anxiety or pick up its symptoms early by checking out other articles on the subject. Should you have questions or clarifications on the subject or other related subjects, you can also schedule an appointment with competent mental health professionals at BetterHelp.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are anxiety thoughts?
Thoughts are what they are until it gains the power of its own. Anxiety thoughts are usually described as negative automatic thoughts. They are unwanted intrusive thoughts that focus on irrelevant and unpleasant things. They come from nowhere and are often distressing. The thoughts may consist of socially unacceptable imagery, repetitive doubts, sexual orientation, relationships, religion, decisions, etc. They are usually not often spoken of by the involved persons.
It is important to manage your thoughts properly. If you learn not to dwell on these thoughts, they will gradually fade away. Hence, you have to redirect your thoughts to thinking right. Be intentional about shutting your heart from worrisome thinking. Going for Cognitive behavioral therapy can help train your mind.
2. How do I know if I have anxiety?
If you have an anxiety disorder, you should be able to tell. This is because you will not be able to set your worries aside by your self. These are the signs that you have anxiety.
- You worry excessively and get stressed from things that should not bother you so much. It could even be about daily matters.
- You get easily fatigued and so irritable.
- Your thoughts might always wander and race. You might be unable to concentrate on one thing at a time. Also, you may begin to welcome strange thoughts.
3. Are there natural ways to reduce anxiety?
Anxiety can be reduced through several methods. Here are some of the natural methods:
Regular exercise reduces your chances of having anxiety. It helps your body, mental health, and overall wellbeing. You do not have to run all around, but taking a brisk walk for a couple of minutes will make you feel better. Good and regular exercises cause your body to release chemicals that will improve your mood. With regular exercise, you are less likely to experience anxiety.
The effect of healthy diets on the overall health status is a huge one. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric, yogurt, eggs, oranges, berries, oatmeal, spinach, Green tea, lemon balm, Kava kava, etc. have been shown to reduce anxiety effectively.
Avoid too much caffeine drinks or food. Caffeine in plenty of doses can make you excessively anxious. Again, taking alcohol in excess can have an adverse effect on you. It is best to stay away from alcohol and smoking. Cigarette contains nicotine, and it can modify specific pathways in the brain that are associated with anxiety.
The practice of deep breathing exercises is also an effective and natural way of reducing anxiety. Since anxiety is associated with shallow breathing, a deliberate process of taking deep breaths can lower anxiety.
Studies have shown that good and satisfying sex can reduce anxiety. Having sex with a committed and happy partner can make you happy too. Good sex life can help reduce stress and anxiety.
4. Is anxiety always a bad thing?
Anxiety is not always a bad thing. It is like an alarm system seated there in our body system. It is a mechanism that the body uses as a response to stress and certain life issues. The fight-or-flight response is triggered when there is danger, or your peace is threatened. It is also normal to feel anxious before an interview, talk, go on a first date, etc. A moderate level of anxiety is good enough for the brain. It helps us when we need to meet a deadline or have not prepared adequately for an upcoming exam. In a bit of it, anxiety helps save us from danger and get our work done.
5. What is the difference between being anxious and having anxiety?
Normal anxiety can occur as a response to a stressful condition or danger. Being anxious is that feeling before an interview or an exam, worry about an issue at work or family, etc. It is normal as everyone feels anxious at some point in life.
On the other hand, having anxiety disorders mean a different thing entirely. They are mental disorders characterized by constant anxiety and fear, irritability, fatigue, sleep trouble, difficulty concentrating, etc. These illnesses need to be treated by w Mental Health specialist.
6. What should I do when I notice that I have anxiety?
If you discover that you have the symptoms of anxiety such as excess worrying, irritability, fatigue, panic attacks, trouble with sleep, difficulty in concentration, cold feet, and palms, you should see a doctor. If you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, here are some things you can do. The first thing you could do is to learn about your condition. Do not shy away from asking questions from your doctor or therapist. This will help you to cooperate better with other caregivers on your journey to health.
You should follow your treatment plan religiously. Many times, stopping your mediations abruptly if on medication can trigger anxiety or make it worse. Hence, it is important to stick to your treatment regimen.
On improving your state of health, proper diet, combined with regular exercise, will be helpful. Regular exercise will help your brain to release some hormones that will enhance and stabilize mood.
Here is a list of what you may need to avoid. They include excessive intake of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and recreational drug. This will help to reduce your risk of anxiety disorders.
7. What are the causes of anxiety?
The causes are not so clear, but it appears that certain life events can trigger anxiety. The causes may include a genetic trait inherited from parents with anxiety disorders. Other causes are biological hormones, environmental stress, substance abuse, medical conditions, and several other reasons.
8. What are anxiety attacks?
An anxiety attack is often used as a panic attack, but there are notable differences. An anxiety attack is described as an episode of intense panic or fear. Any warning does not precede it as it occurs suddenly. The triggers include stressful jobs, memories of traumatic experiences, social situations, drug withdrawal, mediation, etc.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) recognizes panic attacks, but anxiety attacks are not.
9. Can anxiety be cured?
There is no cure for anxiety, but it can be carefully and properly managed. Anxiety disorders are chronic, and the outlook in the long-term view is heavily dependent on the severity of the condition in an individual. It may not go away entirely, but it can get better and improved quality of life with the treatment modalities of choice.
10. Should I take medications for anxiety?
If you suspect that you have an anxiety disorder, it is important that you get help from a professional. Your healthcare provider will determine if you would benefit greatly from medications or not. Hence, stay away from unprescribed medications. It is important to note that there are other treatment modalities for anxiety, including lifestyle modification, psychotherapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy.
11. Is anxiety connected to depression?
Anxiety and depression are connected in a special way. Anxiety could be a result of depression. At some other times, depression may be expressed in depressive states. An individual with manic depression, for example, will have both symptoms. Anxiety will cause you to worry in excess, agitated, and you may feel shaky all over with dry mouth and sweaty body. You may experience panic attacks, irritability, trouble with sleep, fatigue, etc.
Depression and anxiety share similar symptoms such as fatigue, trouble with sleep, and concentration. In addition to the shared symptoms, depression can be seen in emotions, cognitive function, physical appearance, and behavior. They include consistent and intense sadness based on no particular reason, feelings of emptiness, worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, loss of interest in the favorite activities, suicidal thoughts, low energy, appetite, and weight changes, etc.
12. How do I stop anxious thoughts?
It is important to try to break free from anxious thoughts. How then can we achieve this? Breathe! It is necessary to take deep breaths because it is effective for calming anxiety quickly.
Another way is to admit that you are anxious, and you may need to channel the energy into a walk or a run. Physical exercise will help you relax, and before you know it, such thoughts disappear. Getting some real fresh air calms you and helps you to relax.
To stop anxious thoughts, you could listen to music, change your focus, draw a mental picture of you staying calm. All of these are ways to deal with anxious thoughts.
13. What are the symptoms of anxiety?
A person with anxiety can manifest a lot of symptoms. Anxiety symptoms include feelings of fear, panic attacks, sweaty palms, fast breathing, restlessness, increased heart rate, fatigue, shaking, weakness, difficulty with sleep, digestive system problems, difficulty concentrating, etc.
14. What are the risk factors for anxiety?
Risk factors for anxiety are numerous. These factors, solely or in combination, may likely predispose anyone to anxiety. They include trauma, personality, family history, substance abuse, crippling medical conditions, accumulated stress, and so much.
Trauma, in any form, can make one develop anxiety disorders. Trauma from an automobile accident, natural disaster, death of a loved one, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and so many other traumatic events are serious factors for developing anxiety disorders.
Some people have personality types that are more susceptible to having this disorder. Some studies suggest that personality traits such as perfectionism, low self-esteem, dominance, timid, inhibited, etc. may develop anxiety at any time.
A family history of anxiety disorders or any related mental health disorders is a certain risk factor for this anxiety.
Another confirmed risk factor is substance abuse. The use of alcohol, drugs, and every other substance makes one vulnerable to anxiety disorders. This drug abuse can cause anxiety and make it worse.
Certain chronic medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and many others cause anxiety. Some mental health issues like depression can manifest as anxiety.
Accumulated stress is also responsible for anxiety. The stress may be due to an ongoing stressful event such as issues at work, family problems, change of residence, stress due to taking care of a personal illness, or family member.
When you notice any of these things, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
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